Southern Comfort: Manchester Orchestra and Say Anything

By By Trevor Hale and By Trevor Hale

By Trevor Hale

When: Tuesday, March 18, 6 p.m.Where: In The Venue (219 S. 600 West)

According to just about every magazine on the stands, Manchester Orchestra is the seemingly unanimous choice for the “next big thing.”

Rolling Stone, Spin, Paste and AP Magazine have all dropped the band’s name in the past few months, setting the hype machine at full force for the band’s upcoming tour opening for Say Anything.

But none of those accolades seems to affect the young members of the band, who react to the praise with true southern hospitality.

“It’s really just a little blurb here and there,” said drummer Jeremiah Edmond from Atlanta, where the band is enjoying the last days of its first minor vacation in a long while before a five-week tour kicks off in Hollywood on Wednesday.

“It’s flattering and amazing, but we take it all with a grain of salt,” Edmond said. “We’re just trying to keep our heads down and do our own thing.”

Doing its own thing is what Manchester Orchestra has been doing a lot of recently. Aside from all the praise heaped upon the guys, the young band has accomplished more since its inception than most bands ever do. Its first full-length album, I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child has garnered them so much attention and praise that the band spent almost all of 2007 on the road opening for bands such as Brand New and Saves the Day.

Manchester’s goal for 2007 was to play a whopping 250 shows. Somehow the band not only accomplished this, but lived through it, too.

“It’s what we needed to do at that stage in our career,” Edmond said. “But it definitely wasn’t healthy, mentally or physically.”

Edmond said the goal that the band has set for 2008 is different than last year.

“We will definitely not be on the road nearly as much,” he said. “Last year we set a lofty goal and survived it, but this year we’re scaling it way back and focusing on a new record.”

However, it seems “scaling back” won’t take place until the band heads home in April-one-third of the year already down.

The band has hit the roads of three different continents since the new year began, hitting the United States twice, and making stops in Europe and Australia as well.

The new record, which Edmond said the band hopes to record sometime in July or August, will be along the same lines as Manchester Orchestra’s debut-often compared to indie rock acts Death Cab for Cutie and Bright Eyes. Andy Hull, the band’s singer and main songwriter does a wonderful job of combining those obvious influences with just the right amount of originality to set Manchester apart from the rest of the copycat acts running around.

Manchester Orchestra is also fortunate enough to be in complete control of its albums, releasing its music through own label, Favorite Gentlemen Recordings.

“We know what we want, and we’re very hands-on with everything,” Edmond said. “We might not know everything we need to, but that’s why we hire people that know more than we do to help us out. We’ve just had a very Do-It-Yourself mindset from the very beginning, and we like keeping it that way.”

Edmond said that the band has a number of new tracks worked out and even more ideas floating around. It helps that Hull has been steadily writing songs since he was 16, even convincing his parents to let him drop out of high school to focus on music.

“Andy brings in a pretty solid song idea, with a riff, melody and ideas for lyrics, and we all just kind of build from there,” Edmond said. “He’s definitely the main force behind the songs.”

While Manchester Orchestra might be a few months away from the studio, it is a few days away from another stop in Salt Lake City.

“We’ve been through three or four times, and we’ve had a great reaction each time,” Edmond said. “There were lots of people at the shows when we expected no one, and more than that, they knew our songs. We’re looking forward to coming back.”

The attitude of a true southern gentleman.

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